Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Should you try ultralight backpacking?

Ultralight backpackers take the lightest
essentials needed for a hike.
To maximize comfort, you always want to go light, meaning carrying as little as possible. Some backpackers take this rule to the max, stripping every extra ounce of their backpack and loading it with only the lightest essentials. They’re practicing ultralight backpacking.

Ultralight backpacking offers a number of advantages. The most obvious is comfort, as the shoulders, back, hips and legs lug about less weight. Such a hiker is less likely to feel sore during or after a hike. The potential for injuries also decreases as maintaining one’s balance and footing is easier.

When walking, ultralight hiker also will be able to keep their energy level up for longer than someone carrying a heavier load, which means they’ll go farther and faster. A smaller load also gives one freedom to go places – such as up a steep incline or off trail to an interesting vista – that someone with a heavier load might not be inclined to do.

If ultralight backpacking offers so many benefits, you might ask why everyone doesn’t do it. That’s because there’s a certain feeling of safety one has in carrying more than the basic essentials. Some backpackers also are willing to sacrifice a little distance and length of time on the trail to enjoy the comforts that extra or heavier (and perhaps better built) gear offer.

Indeed, ultralight backpacking probably isn’t for someone who’s inexperienced with being in the wilderness when water filters and extra first-aid equipment are needed should you get lost or suffer an injury and need to be outdoors longer than you planned.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.